Watch CBS News

Lawyers: Shanann Watts' Parents Lawsuit To Go Uncontested By Chris Watts

GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4)- Lawyers representing Shanann Watts' parents believe their wrongful death lawsuit will go uncontested by Chris Watts. From prison in Wisconsin, the convicted murderer did not initially convey interest in disputing the suit. The Denver Post first reported the development.

Bella, Celeste and Shanann Watts
Bella, Celeste and Shanann Watts (credit CBS)

Steven Lambert, of the Grant & Hoffman Law Firm in Greeley, told CBS4's Dillon Thomas he spoke with Chris Watts over the phone multiple times since filing the suit. Based on their discussions, they were under the impression he was accepting fault.

"We didn't expect him to take the call," Lambert said. "From our understanding, he doesn't get notified who is calling, just that someone is calling him."

Watt Sentencing KUSA City Pool link_frame_61609
Sandra Rzucek, Shanann Watts' mother (credit: CBS)

Lambert represents Frank and Sandy Rzucek, Shanann's parents. Lambert said the family does not expect to receive millions of dollars in the lawsuit.

"He is (likely) making 10 cents an hour stamping license plates," Lambert said, when addressing Watts' current income.

Christopher Watts Arraignment Hearing in Murder Of Wife And Children
Chris Watts (credit: RJ Sangosti - Pool/Getty Images)

However, Shanann's family is hoping to receive any money he makes, or comes across, while in prison for the triple murder.

"We filed it in case anything were to come up," Lambert said. "We've heard of people sending love letters to him. There were some concerns from our clients of him profiting in some way."

Watt Sentencing KUSA City Pool link_frame_45769
Shanann Watts father testifies in court at Chris Watts sentencing hearing (credit: CBS)

Lambert said there is a state law in Colorado that will prohibit Watts from accessing most of his funds, citing the "Son of Sam" law. However, the wrongful death suit would assure any other funds accessed while serving time in prison would go to the Rzuceks.

"(Watts) had a period of time in which to respond to our claim, in which he didn't," Lambert said. "In calls we have had with him, it doesn't sound like he is contesting this lawsuit."

Christopher Watts Arraignment Hearing in Murder Of Wife And Children
Chris Watts (Photo by RJ Sangosti - Pool/Getty Images)

Lambert expected a conversation with Watts to be awkward, and possibly even "eerie." However, when on the phone, Lambert suggested Watts may have come to terms with his new reality, as he answered every question they had openly.

"It wasn't weird, or anything… He doesn't seem to be fighting this," Lambert said. "(Watts is) admitting liability, or giving up things that he might've had claim to."

Lambert said Watts had 35 days to file for default. Before then, the law firm will work to provide proof of pain, loss of income, and losses to the family and Shanann's estate.

Lambert said the Rzuceks were doing better since Watts was convicted to life in prison for the murders of Shanann, Bella and Celeste "CeCe" Watts. However, he said the spotlight the murders placed on the family has been trying for Frank and Sandy.

Lambert hoped to have the wrongful death suit resolved before the end of the year for his clients.

"(Watts is) spending 23 hours (a day) in a cell, sitting there," Lambert said. "He has the next 30 years to think of what he's done."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.